Kanshudo 'how to' guides
How to use spaced repetition flashcards to study Japanese
In this guide we will introduce you to one of the most powerful memorization techniques: spaced repetition flashcards.
With built-in spaced repetition, you can use Kanshudo flashcards as your one-stop-shop for learning Japanese. We will show you how to build flashcard sets corresponding to textbooks or books you read, and how to use the spaced repetition technique to maximize the effectiveness of your studies.
1. What is spaced repetition?
Put very simply, spaced repetition is the idea that it is most effective to review something you want to memorize just before you are about to forget it.
When you first learn something, it is stored in your 'short term' memory - in other words, you have only a 'temporary' memory of it: your brain is keeping it accessible in case you need it again soon. If you don't access that memory again, it will fade from your short term memory.
In order for your brain to store something in your 'long term' memory, you need to keep accessing the short term memory. Each time you access it, it will remain accessible for a longer period. After a certain number of repetitions, it will become a permanent memory.
The concept of spaced repetition was first identified in the 1930s, and over the intervening years several variations have evolved. Kanshudo uses an approach known as 'expanded interval', which was pioneered by Leitner, and developed further by SuperMemo. It's also used in the Anki flashcard system. In the next section, we'll show you how it works.
2. How does Kanshudo use spaced repetition?
When you create a new set of flashcards (or add flashcards to a set), they are considered 'unlearned'. Your first step is to learn the cards, by reviewing them as many times as you need to.
If you look at a card and you can't remember what's on the back without looking, mark the card as 'Not yet'. Kanshudo will keep showing you each card until you are remember what's on the back of it without looking at it. When you get to this point, select one of the two options, 'Only just' or 'Easy'. Use 'Easy' if you think the card is already something you will remember indefinitely. Otherwise use 'Only just'.
Once a card is memorized, Kanshudo will determine what interval to wait before asking you to 'Review' the card. The first interval will depend on how many times you had to study the card before you memorized it. Kanshudo's goal is to show you cards for review just before you forget them. For cards that you remember when you review them, the interval will gradually get longer and longer - stretching from days to weeks to months to years. Cards you can remember without review for months or years are in your long term memory.
If you have forgotten a card that comes up for review, just click 'Not yet'. The card will appear back in the Study list with other unlearned cards. When you next mark it as learned, Kanshudo will automatically shorten the review intervals to ensure it stays that way.
So the basic approach is:
- Study the cards until you know each one well enough to guess the back of the card before you look.
- Kanshudo will automatically tell you what cards need to be reviewed. Try to review cards whenever they are ready for review - if you miss the review interval, you are likely to forget them.
- Any cards you forget from a review session will reappear in the study list.
3. Working with large study sets
Kanshudo Pros can create an unlimited number of flashcards, and each set can contain as many as 2500 cards. You can't memorize 2500 cards at one time, so Kanshudo automatically generates study sets with a manageable number of cards (30).
When you click 'Study' for a flashcard set with more than 30 cards, Kanshudo will randomly generate a study set, and will remember that set until you have learned all the cards in it. Once you have learned that study set, if cards remain in the flashcard set, Kanshudo will generate a new study set next time you click Study.
4. How to create flashcards
Kanshudo lets you create flashcards in several ways, and you can mix and match kanji and vocab flashcards in any set. Here are a few ways to get started:
- From lessons: if you are working through Kanshudo's graded lesson series, the 53 Stages of the Kanshudo, flashcards are automatically created as part of each lesson.
- From Favorites: when you search for kanji in Kanshudo, you can mark any kanji as a 'favorite' by clicking the green star on the right. At any time, you can create flashcards from your favorites from the Flashcards home page. Duplicates will be ignored, so there is no need to un-favorite kanji.
- Random selection: on the Flashcards home page, you can randomly generate a set of kanji flashcards from the entire system, or within a specific frequency range.
- By importing lists from a dictionary program: if you use an electronic dictionary, you should be able to export lists of vocab in a text format.
- By hand: you can easily import flashcards from your own lists. For more details on both of these import options, see our how-to guide, How to create vocab flashcards.
New flashcards can be imported into existing sets, so you can easily mix and match kanji and vocab flashcards.
5. Editing flashcards
You can edit any flashcard just by clicking 'EDIT' on the back side of the card when it appears in a review or study session. This is especially useful if you need to make a note or change to the text that appears on the back of a card. You can also remove cards from sets from the edit page.